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Start The Year Out Right By Resolving To Improve Your Pet’s Life

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New Year, New Resolutions

Make 2015 a great year for you and your pets.

By Sandy Robins

Dogs and Cats Celebrating the New Year

Start this year out right by making a resolution to implement your resolutions, especially those that will help your pets have healthy and happy lives for years to come.

Yes, every year it’s the same pattern. We vow we are going to do certain things in the New Year and make positive changes to our lifestyles—and our pets’ lifestyles, too. Somehow, the year picks up steam and hurtles along and soon we are back making the same statements at the start of a different year.

Let’s start this year out right by making a resolution to implement the resolutions. Our pets truly rely on us for everything, from their food to a topped-up water bowl, from a comfortable bed placed away from any household draughts to their grooming and exercise routines.

The following basics are a great place to start making things better for your pets.

Cat Drinking from a Water Fountain

A resolution: Remember to regularly refresh and top off your pets’ water bowls and fountains. Every pet needs constant access to fresh water. Photo courtesy of PetSafe.

From a feline perspective, as the litterbox janitor you can resolve to scoop daily (if you aren’t already doing so) and ensure its topped up with fresh litter—about 4 inches’ worth inside the pan. The rule is one litterbox per cat in the house. So, if you don’t have the correct numbers, put another pan on your shopping list. You might even score a post-holiday bargain.

Water bowls and fountains also need to be refreshed and topped up daily. If you have been slacker, this is a quick fix. You can also delegate kids in the household to keep an eye on the water levels and nag you to top up. Kids know how to nag, right?

Exercise is vital to good health for both cats and dogs. When it comes to cats, short games with a wand or a toy they can chase makes all the difference. Try to introduce playtime twice a day. The kids can step in here as well and commandeer a play session. This daily exercise offers felines both mental and physical stimulation. Interacting with pets also provides great learning opportunities for children.

Dogs need several good walks in a day. During the winter, you can take them on several shorter walks instead of just one or two long walks in the cold. If the weather is just not conducive to going outdoors, a pet treadmill can be a great investment when it comes to taking care of their exercise needs.

Dog Playing With Treat-filled Toy

A resolution: Ensure your pets always have something to keep themselves occupied–safely and constructively. Puzzle toys, especially treat-filled ones, are great for dogs and cats. Photo courtesy of PetSafe.

Be sure to introduce other interactive games, too, so that you can spend quality time together. Puzzle toys are great for both cats and dogs left home alone as they truly give pets a chance to constructively occupy their time—and their minds.

If you are like me, no resolution in the world is going to stop you from being a part-time couch potato with all that good material available on Netflix. However, make sure you curl up together with your favorite pets so that you can all enjoy quality time together—as well as (low-calorie) snacks.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

Keep Your Cat Healthy With Visits to the Veterinarian

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Take Your Cat to the Vet

Why your cat needs to have regular health checkups.

By Lisa King

Cat Examination at the Vet Hospital

Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary.

Veterinarian visits are expensive. Taking your cat in for a routine checkup can run over $100 if he’s due for a vaccination. If you have multiple cats, the costs mount. Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. For these reasons, many cat owners avoid taking their cats to the vet unless there is an obvious medical problem. In fact, dogs are taken to the vet twice as often as cats are.

Avoiding routine vet visits can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Cats are very good at hiding pain and other symptoms until they become severe. It’s important for a vet to give your cat a head-to-tail exam at least once a year to check for parasites, indications of disease or anything else out of the ordinary. If your cat is older or has any existing health issues, he should see the vet twice a year.

The vet will check your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listen to his heart and breathing. She will also weigh your cat, and might recommend blood work, especially if your cat is senior. If any problems are found, they can be dealt with before they become more serious—and more expensive.

It’s a good idea to bring a stool sample in a plastic baggie to your appointment. That way, the vet can test for intestinal parasites right away.

Veterinarian Listens to a Cat's Lungs

A typical veterinarian exam includes checking your cat’s eyes, ears, teeth, gums and body and listening to his heart and breathing.

The annual vet visit is a good time to discuss other topics with the doctor. Is your cat exhibiting any unusual behaviors? Has he suddenly started urinating outside the litterbox? Has his appetite increased or diminished? Is he drinking more or less water than normal? Changes like these can be indications of underlying medical issues.

If you are avoiding vet visits because your cat goes postal at the sight of his carrier, there are steps you can take to calm him down. Start by placing the carrier in an area your cat frequents so it isn’t a signal that a vet visit is imminent. Leave the door open and put a favorite blanket, a couple of toys and some treats inside.

Put a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray. These synthetic pheromone products are designed to reduce anxiety in cats by mimicking the scent of lactating mother cats.

Cat in a Carrier at the Vet's Office

Getting the cat into the carrier, driving him to the vet and having strangers touch him can be traumatic for both the cat and you. You can help your cat deal with a trip to the vet by putting a calming plug-in near the carrier or spray the inside of the carrier with a calming spray.

Take your cat on car rides that don’t end up at the vet. Drive around for several minutes and then come home and give your cat a treat or a favorite toy. This will lead him to associate car rides with rewards rather than punishment.

In extreme cases, your vet can prescribe a sedative to be given shortly before visits. This will make it easier for you to transport your cat and will also make it easier for the vet to examine him.

If your cat still gets very stressed by vet visits, it is possible to find vets who make house calls. Ask your vet if she does, or if she can recommend someone who does. Keeping your cat in familiar surroundings and skipping the car ride will reduce his anxiety significantly and will make his annual checkups relatively painless for both of you.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

Holiday Gift List For Every Four-Legged Family Member

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Pet Holiday Gift List

What to give your favorite four-legged friends.

By Stacy Mantle

HolidayGifts4Pets

When it comes to the holidays, we all want the best for our pets. I spend the year looking for well-designed gifts that will last—and are from companies that participate in programs to benefit nonprofit organizations. If you’re looking for a gift for your dogs or cats, these are a few of my holiday picks for 2014.

For the Dogs on Your Holiday List

Ruffwear K9 Overcoat

Ruffwear-K-9-OvercoatOnce again, Ruffwear proves it is the king of outdoor wear for dogs. The redesigned K9 Overcoat is great for any climate and the durable material allows it to stand up to even the most active dog. Wind- and water-resistant outer fabric keeps the elements out, while interior fleece layer keeps body heat in. Ruffwear’s Donation Program provides product donations to organizations and events that support outdoor spaces where wildlife thrives and people and dogs recreate

Pricing begins at $65

http://www.ruffwear.com/K-9-Overcoat

ClearConscienceSliders

Clear Conscience Pets Sliders

Sliders® are formulated with meat content and ultra-low carbohydrates and are free of all chemical preservatives, including glycerins and glycols. These treats make the perfect stocking stuffer for any sized dog. Clear Conscience Pet actively supports The Potcake Foundation and the Turks and Caicos SPCA (TCSPCA) and a variety of local animal shelters.

http://www.clearconsciencepet.com/about-products/sliders

UpCountryHolidayCollarsUpCountry Collars

Perfect for a night walking with carolers. UpCountry collars come in more than 100 beautiful designs and the company offers matching leads and harnesses to complete the look. Made in the USA THE holiday collection features everything from sweaters to treats. Each year during the holiday season at Up Country, employees collect money for donation to a nonprofit organization. Up Country generously matches the total raised and the company actively participates in fundraisers for a variety of organizations.

Prices vary, but most collars begin at $20

http://www.upcountryinc.com/our-products/category/holidays

Pogo-PlushPetSafePetSafe Pogo Plush Toys

Looking for a toy that will hold up to the heaviest chewer? PetSafe offers PogoPlush toys that come complete with a migrating squeaker and an inner cage under the plush covering dogs love. Great for any size, this toy can last much longer than your standard plush toys. PetSafe plays a lead role in helping pets become respected citizens and actively participates in community initiatives to create dog parks, as well as offering tuition assistance and supporting pet-friendly communities.

Prices begin at $12.99

http://store.petsafe.net/pogo-plush

OrvisWaterTrapperOrvisDogBreedOrnaments

Orvis Pet Ornaments and Water Trapper Mats

Orvis offers an extensive line of high-quality holiday items that any dog or cat owner will love, including pet-themed ornaments, durable water-trapper tree mats, and much more. Orvis partners with customers to help the PetFinder Foundation in its mission to support rescue shelters. Orvis will match every donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for a total contribution of $60,000.

http://www.orvis.com/dog-products

For the Cats in Your Life

NekoTelescopingRodNekoFlies BirBug Telescoping Rod

NekoFlies brings a unique twist to the wand toy. This gliding toy features a design that will entice even the most unresponsive cat, and its telescoping rod makes it the perfect selection for playtime in the largest of rooms or the tiniest of spaces. NekoFlies regularly donates products to shelters.

http://www.nekoflies.com/index.php/neko-birbug.html

Ultimate-BlendFrom the Field Silvervine & Catnip

Silver vine is the new herb for cats who don’t generally respond to catnip. Naturally grown in Malaysia, this natural herb can give your cat a euphoric response even if she doesn’t normally respond to catnip or valerian root. Sprinkle a pinch of From the Field’s Ultimate Blend of silver vine and catnip on your cat’s favorite toy or bed, and watch the magic. Protecting the planet was the inspiration for the From the Field line of products. The company works to protect the earth from deforestation and pollution by using eco-friendly products and supporting key .

http://www.fromthefieldpet.com/silvervine.html

EcoCattypillar

Eco Cater Pillar Toy

This all-natural toy is perfect for cats who love to play. Each colorful body part is made of organic wool and sewn together with hemp twine. The natural lanolin aroma appeals to any cat and the toy can be hand-washed. As a bonus, the wool components are handmade by women in Nepal as part of the Fair Trade program, and every purchase helps support families who are involved with Snow Leopard Preservation programs.

http://honestpetproducts.com/shop/natural-cat-toys

Licks4CatsLicks for Cats

The perfect stocking stuffer comes in the form of a supplement. Individually packaged to ensure proper dosage, LICKS® offers an extensive line of products, each formulated to focus on resolving specific health and behavior conditions. (I recommend the ZEN™ formula as a calming aid to keep anxious, stressed-out or aggressive cats calm during the holidays). LICKS Liquid Vitamins contributes 5 percent of revenue to charitable organizations.

http://www.lickspillfree.com/?page_id=1084


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

Corral Your Independent-Minded Feline Day (Or Not)

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Celebrate National Cat Herders Day!

It really isn’t has hard to do as you think.

By Sandy Robins

HerdingCats

The expression “ It’s like herding cats” is meant to describe a seemingly impossible task—just like herding independent-minded felines.

If you are suffering from the feeling of losing gravity and find yourself spinning off into the blue yonder, you are not alone. This—among other reasons— is why a California couple, who obviously understands this state of helpless chaos, stepped forward and created a special day, declaring December 15 as National Cat Herders Day.

The expression “ It’s like herding cats” is meant to describe a seemingly impossible task—just like herding independent-minded felines….

Frankly, National Cat Herders Day is simply a good reason to stop what you are doing, open a bottle of pinot grigio, sit down on the couch and enjoy the vino, preferably with a cat on your lap.

I am not too sure where the cat reference even comes from. Yes, I know cats can be independent and pretty much have their own routines based around arranging themselves in as many sleeping positions as it’s possible to achieve in a 16-hour stretch. However, if you are going to take the action of herding cats quite literally, it’s really a very easy thing to do. Simply take a bag of treats and shake it; cats will coming running from wherever they are. Moreover, if you do the Hansel and Gretel thing of dropping treats as you walk, they will simply follow you—until you run out of treats.

HerdingCats-Treats

To herd cats, simply take a bag of treats and shake it; cats will coming running from wherever they are (getting them to stay is another matter entirely).

It’s worth noting that if you are suffering from end-of-year chaos, the power of the purr has been medically proven to be not only relaxing but a preventative measure for a heart attack. Yes, if you live with a cat you stand a 40 percent less chance of having a heart attack (all other factors being equal, of course). In addition, if you have your own mini herd of cats, well even better.

For anyone seriously considering an attempt at herding cats, stop and take a moment to watch this You Tube video. Admittedly, it is an advertisement , but it says it all. Happy holidays!


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Great Products for Dogs and Cats

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Nifty New Pet Products

MudMonstersMuttluks Mud Monsters and Snow Mushers boots are made for walking, hiking, rugged terrain, snow, ice and extreme heat or cold. Made with 100 percent recycled rubber, the unique flexible soles with traction treads incorporate “barefoot” technology that makes the boots “pawsitively” comfortable for dog paws. Mud Monsters are a rugged summer boot with a breathable mesh upper fabric; Snow Mushers are a rugged winter boot with warm fleece inner lining. Both feature elastic soft-cinch fastening and are available in eight sizes and three colors. www.muttluks.com

 

TUFFKittyPuff

 

Kats ‘n Us TUFF Kitty Puffs feature colorful yarn and tinsel that are tightly woven together to outlast the hunter instinct and playfulness of any cat. The cat-pleasing toys come in assorted brilliant sparkly colors—blue, white, gold, green, red and dark pink—and are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. www.catsnus.com

 

 

 

flexi-NEONDesigned to improve safety and visibility for dog owners during evening walks, the flexi® Neon retractable leash offers highly reflective, neon components, on the leash handle break button and the 16-ft. retractable cord or tape. Highly durable, lightweight and equipped with an easy-to-use thumb breaking-system, NEON comes in three different sizes—small, medium and large. www.flexi-northamerica.com.

 

CatGlowDots-Petmate

 

Petmate’s Glow Dots cat collars incorporate glow-in-the-dark ink to provide nighttime visibility for added security. Sized 3/8 in. x 8 ½ in., the collars feature breakaway buckles to ensure cat safety while on the prowl indoors or out. The dot-patterned collars come in three colors: purple, orange and yellow. www.petmate.com

 

 

 

Fruitables-snowflake

 

Give your dog a reward as unique as he is with new Fruitables Vanilla Snowflake Flavor dog treats. Each limited edition treat pouch includes an estimated 300 snowflakes, sustainably harvested in the Rockies. To make these novelty holiday treats, Fruitables combines a snowball’s worth of real, fresh high-altitude snow with its delightful pumpkin granola and yogurt recipe. The finished product is both satisfyingly crunchy and creamy. And, with only 9 calories per treat, dogs can guiltlessly indulge without worrying about winter weight gain. www.FruitablesPetFood.com.

 

 

KttyConnectionDeluxe

 

Kitty Connection®, from Innovation Pet, is a patent-pending, modular playground featuring the SmartLink® Toys system for cats of all ages—from kitten to senior. You can choose from two starter kits, Essential or Deluxe (shown), and add-on a wide variety of accessories that connect together, allowing for endless possibilities in movement and sound attractants, creating the ultimate playground for your cat. www.innovationpet.com

 

 

 

BravoHomestyle

Bravo Pet Foods Homestyle Complete Dinners have premium meat or poultry as the No. 1 ingredient. The freeze-dried diets also contain wholesome ingredients such as organ meat and chickpeas plus a generous helping of garden vegetables and cranberries, as well as natural herbs such as turmeric and sage. Available in three different proteins—beef, pork and turkey—each dinner is 100 percent complete and balanced, low in fat and grain- and gluten-free. In addition, no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors of any kind are used. www.bravopetfoods.com

November is Pet Diabetes Month

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Living with a Diabetic Pet

Thanks to treatment  improvements, the disease is now very manageable.

By Stacy Mantle

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and it’s important for owners to know what signs to look for in their pets.

November is Pet Diabetes Month and as this is a disease that affects nearly every species, it’s important for pet owners to know a little about it. All types of animals, from ferrets to cats and humans to dogs, can develop diabetes.

To understand the condition, you need to know a bit about insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables a body to use sugar (glucose), which is converted from consumed food, for energy or save it for use later. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines; it then flows to the body’s cells. If the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, which acts as a key to open up cells to glucose, the sugar cannot be absorbed by the cells. This results in a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream.  

This buildup is what causes your pets want to eat constantly, but still appear to be malnourished. It is due to the cells not properly absorbing glucose for energy.

If your pet is showing signs of excessive thirst, frequent urination or acting like he or she is tired all of the time, it’s time to get some blood work done. Diabetes is one of those diseases that can sneak up on you and if you don’t pay attention, you could quickly lose your pet. Caught early, and your pets can live a normal, healthy life.

 

Types of Diabetes in Pets

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces no insulin at all. For Type 2, the pancreas produces insulin, but the body’s cells don’t respond well or have become resistant to it.

Dogs tend to develop insulin-dependent diabetes (Type 1), which means they will need injections—probably forever. Cats, however, are more commonly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which can usually be handled with oral medication and diet changes.

 

Diagnosing Diabetes in Pets

If your veterinarian suspects diabetes in your pet, she will likely need to perform a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis to confirm diagnosis. While this may seem like a lot of tests, they are important as it allows the vet to accurately confirm the dosage levels required to help your pet.

It’s also important to remember that many pets react very strongly to being at the veterinarian’s office, and this can effect or change their actual levels. Running multiple tests will help confirm what is really going on while also ruling out other things that could affect your pet’s health.

 

Treating Diabetes in Pets

After your veterinarian has reached the conclusion your pet has diabetes, she will select an insulin type and dosage for your pet. The dosage needs to be closely monitored for the first few months to ensure it is accurate and effective. Every animal responds differently to the treatment and it’s up to the vet to establish how well your pet is doing with it.

In severe cases, your veterinarian might ask you to leave your pet at the hospital for a few days so she can quickly establish the best dosage through close monitoring.

Learn more about pet diabetes, its signs and risk factors with this downloadable brochure from Merck Animal Health.

 

Diet and Exercise

You might also need to change your pet’s diet to a prescription food or other vet-recommended food. It is very important that you monitor your pet’s diet, including treats, for the rest of his life. You need to be extra careful not to let your pet eat from the table or get into garbage as this can seriously affect his blood-sugar levels.

Currently, most vets recommend that dogs stay on high-fiber diets, since fiber seems to help increase the effect of insulin in dogs. Cats with diabetes, however, should be on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Sugars, obviously, need to be avoided. This is often simple to do for cats, but dogs tend to have a harder time controlling their intake of sugar.

Exercise is also very important. You will want to make sure your dog is getting plenty of walks and playtime to keep him active—it will tremendously help him to manage this condition.  

 

Injections

Most pets could require injections twice a day—after each meal. You might have to modify your pet’s feeding schedule. You will also need to learn how to give these injections subcutaneously (under the skin). This might seem intimidating, but you can quickly learn this simple task. The needles are quite small and, in most cases, your pet will not even feel it—especially after you’ve had some practice.  Work closely with your veterinarian to learn how to give these injections. They are very, very important to maintaining your pet’s health.

In some cases (such as with Type 2), oral medication can be used instead of insulin injections. The treatment plan will depend on your veterinarian and how advanced your pet’s condition is (which is one more reason why you need to catch it early).

 

Glucose Testing

Your pet will need to have glucose tests to monitor his insulin levels. In the beginning, he might need to have a glucose curve established—blood -sugar levels are monitored every 2 to 4 hours for a 24-hour period. This test tells the veterinarian how well your pet is adjusting to the insulin.

After the initial curve is established, you should be able to monitor your pet with ongoing veterinarian appointments or by measuring the levels at home with a glucometer. You’ll want to learn more about this process because many things can affect how your pet responds daily to insulin day.

If you suspect your dog or cat has diabetes, be sure to get him into the veterinarian right away. This is a very manageable disease and the science used in preventing and treatment is improving every day.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

How You Can Help Your Local Shelter

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Helping Rescues and Shelters

Do what you can: adopt, volunteer, donate, spread the word.

By Audrey Pavia

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one.

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat is to adopt one.

Every year, nearly 7.6 million cats and dogs end up in U.S. animal shelters; only half of those animals find homes; the other half is euthanized, according to the ASPCA. This means approximately 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are destroyed in shelters every year.

These shocking statistics underline the severity of the homeless pet problem, and drive home the need for pet lovers to do whatever they can to help shelter animals.

The first of November began the National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, but shelters need help all year round. What follows are some suggestions on how you can provide assistance to shelter pets.

 

Adopt

The most important step you can take toward helping a shelter dog or cat  is to adopt one. Instead of buying a pet, go to www.petfinder.com and search for the kind of canine or feline companion you are seeking. Shelters and private rescues list dogs and cats of all breeds and breed mixes, ages and temperaments on this site. Private rescues can often tell you a lot about the dog or cat because the animal has been kept in foster care for a period of time before being placed up for adoption. City and county shelters might not be able to give you as much information about the pet, but many shelters provide adoption packages to people who adopt a dog or cat, and these often include free or low-cost training.

 

Rescues and shelters appreciated any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekend visits.

Rescues and shelters appreciate any help you can give, from a few hours a month to regular weekly visits.

Volunteer

Most shelters and rescues are desperate for volunteers. Positions that need filling include tasks like office work, pet photography, public relations, attending adoption events, dog training and dog walking. You can spend as much time you like volunteering. Whether it’s a few hours a month or every weekend, rescues and shelters are grateful for any help they can get.

 

Donate

All shelters and rescues are desperate for resources. If you cannot donate money, find out what other items they need. Many shelters and rescues will accept pet food, blankets, carriers, toys, bowls and other pet accessories. If you have gently used items your dog or cat no longer needs, consider taking them to the local shelter. You might also want to buy a gift card to a pet supply chain such as PetSmart or Petco to enable the rescue or shelter to purchase whatever they need.

 

Spread the Word

Get on the mailing list for your favorite rescues and your local shelter, or follow them on social media. Share postings about pets for adoption with people you know. The more exposure shelter pets receive, the more likely they are to get a home.

 

Help Strays

Even though shelters are inundated with homeless dogs, they are there to help animals in need. If you see a stray dog, call your local animal control agency so they can catch the dog and take him to their facility. The dog will be fed and given veterinary care, and kept for a period of time so the owner can claim him. In the event the dog is not claimed, he will go up for adoption. You can request that the shelter keep your posted on dog’s status.

 

Spay or Neuter

Don’t contribute to the homeless pet population by allowing your dog or cat to breed. Spay or neuter your dog, even if she is a purebred. Shelters and rescues are filled with purebred dogs that need homes.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Black Cats Need Love Too

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Black is the New Cat

It’s time to celebrate
Black Cat Appreciation Day.

By Sandy Robins

Black cats should be judged by their personality and innate characteristics.

Black cats need to be judged by their personality and innate characteristics and not superstitions tied to their color.

I know, I know. Another pet related day to celebrate on the calendar. Yet, Black Cat Appreciation Day on November 16 is truly something to celebrate.

Sadly, black cats (and dogs) are far less likely to be adopted from shelters than cats of any other fur colors or combinations. That means the euthanization rate is much higher. Even if everyone knows that black cats aren’t witches’ familiars or minions of hell, there remains an underlying belief that they are unlucky. As a result, black cats tend to be overlooked no matter how beautiful they are or engaging their personalities.

As far as superstitions go, it depends on which side of the Atlantic you live. Black cats are supposed to be unlucky in the U.S; however, across the ocean, the English consider them a sign of good luck. Since anyone who understands even the rudiments of science knows a negative and a positive cancel each other out, we should just let black cats be…well…cats. The superstitious can stick to not walking under ladders or wearing their lucky shirt.

Unfortunately, many people perpetuate the myths about black cats without realizing it. After all, every October we adorn out homes with Halloween paraphernalia and witches and black cats are an integral part of the decorations. Frankly, when it comes to decorating, I think its time to stick to pumpkins. If you really want to bring cats into the picture, consider putting them in a costume. (Shark cat on a Roomba anyone?) You could also turn your pumpkins into Grumpkins, courtesy of the Grumpy Cat carving stencil that came out this year.

living with black cat is like living with a miniature black panther, especially ones with gorgeous gold eyes.

Living with a black cat is like living with a miniature black panther, especially one with gorgeous gold eyes.

Thankfully, animal shelters and rescues refuse to adopt out black cats (and dogs) in October to protect them from falling into the wrong hands. Black Cat Appreciation Day is held the following month to give pet lovers the opportunity to adopt a new friend who is black and beautiful.

There’s no question that living with a black cat is like living with a miniature black panther in your home, especially when he or she is blessed with gorgeous gold eyes.

It is time to stop judging pets by their color and look at them for their personality and innate characteristics.

It is also time to adopt a more European outlook. If a black cat crosses your path, it’is a sign of good luck. You can make that happen every day by bringing a black kitty into your home.

Please Tweet and post positive Facebook messages about black cats on November 16 and dispel the myths associated with these gorgeous creatures. It is no longer the Middle Ages people; time to move on.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

How to Help the Feral Cats in Your Neighborhood

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Feral Cat Care

You can help homeless, gone-wild felines.

By Sandy Robins

FeralCatDay-1October 16th marks the 14th annual national Feral Cat Day with the goal of bringing awareness to the sad plight of feral cats who are forced to live on the streets of cities and towns across America as well as in rural areas.

Feral or community cats are a “man-made problem” that comes about when people carelessly and ruthlessly abandon cats, leaving them to fend for themselves. Moreover, if they have not been spayed or neutered, their numbers quickly escalate.

The official definition of a feral is a cat who is living in a wild state after domestication. Fortunately, cats quickly revert to their natural instincts in order to survive. However, this doesn’t mean they do well on their own. It’s tough to find food, water and shelter in order to survive, let alone thrive.

Here are some useful tips on how to aid feral cats living in your area.

 

TNR—Trap, Neuter and Return

If you find community cats in your neighborhood, the very best way to help them is to get them spay and neutered. The process of having them spayed and neutered and returned to the area where they were found is called TNR: trap, neuter and return. Not only will this stop the cat population from growing, it also makes the cats healthier and happier because they are not continually bearing litters of kittens. It also stops nuisance behavior such as yowling, fighting, which, of course, can make your neighbors more tolerant of them, too.

Just about every community has low-cost or free spay/neuter clinics to help, and they often offer free rental of trapping equipment. To find one near you, contact your local feline rescue group, Humane Society or SPCA. 

 

Establish a Feeding Routine

Be sure to provide the cats with fresh food and water every day. Since they don’t have “owners,” they rely on the kindness of people to help them survive. If possible, find other concerned cat people in your neighborhood and set up a feeding roster to share the responsibilities.

 

Provide Shelter

This is particularly important if you live in a colder climate. You can make a very simple and inexpensive shelter using a plastic storage bin and straw, or you can build something more sturdy and insulated. Here are several great plans for easy-to-make shelters: www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_WINTER_SHELTER

 

Rescue, Foster and Find Homes

FeralCatTrap

Many low-cost spay/neuter clinics will loan volunteers humane traps to catch feral cats.

Many feral cats are friendly and will come close to humans. Where possible, try to remove them from their colony. Very young kittens who are removed early will be easier to socialize in a foster care program. Work in conjunction with a rescue group in your area. Their volunteers will be very willing to teach you the ropes.

 

Encourage Neighbors to Participate—and Spay/Neuter Their Pets

Chances are the feral cats you’re seeing in your neighborhood are the descendants of unfixed domestic cats. By encouraging your neighbors to spay/neuter their pets and educating them about low-cost or free options, it will help prevent the introduction of more homeless cats in your neighborhood.

Cimeron Morrissey, who was named Animal Planet’s person of the Year in 2007 for her tireless work with feral cats, notes the best way to humanely trap cats is to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours and then set the humane traps with tempting treats, such as tuna or wet food.

“Once caught, cover the traps entirely with old sheets or towels, which will calm the cats,” she said, adding that many spay/neuter clinics operate by appointment only, so be sure to plan ahead.

For recovery post-surgery, Morrissey suggests keeping the cats in their covered traps for 24 to 72 hours, taking guidance from the veterinarian clinic and watching for signs of illness or surgical complications (which are rare). Finally, after the cats have recovered, they must be returned to the exact location where they were originally caught.

You can find out more about the National Feral Cat Day along with an interactive listing of events going on around the country at www.alleycat.org/NFCD

Other useful links:

www.alleycat.org

www.feralcatproject.org/aboutthecats_whatis.aspx

www.homelesscatnetwork.com 


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

How to Make Your Cat a Happy One

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Having a Happy Cat, Every Day

By Sandy Robins

September is Happy Cat month. Again, I wonder about these designated events since every day of every month should be about keeping your cat happy.

The best way to make your cat happy is to ensure she really feels comfortable in your Home—everywhere and every day. While cats might love to snooze in a favorite chair and on the bed in the spot where their owners usually lie, they still need a designated place in the home to call their very own.

CatCondoPerch

A cat tree/condo combination offers your feline the perfect place to perch, claw, play and/or hide as his mood demands.

Cats love vertical space because it gives them an opportunity to survey their world and look down on you. The Answer to the question of how to this is a tall cat condo. They usually have small bases so they don’t take up too much space. To meet a cat’s innate needs the condo should provide some privacy, a place to hide and snooze, a lookout zone platform and a place to scratch.

Where possible, position the condo near a window so your cat can enjoy a range of visual entertainment, from birds and butterflies in the garden to passersby (both human and non) and street activity.

Home comforts also include ensuring that your cat’s bed is not placed near a draughty door or window. This is particularly important during the colder months and is especially so for older cats. You should also move the bed around from time to time—it’s like providing your cat with a new place to sleep.

It’s equally important to hone your kitty’s Pounce and Prey skills by providing a variety of toys, from wands to puzzles to catnip-filled comfort toys. Exercise provides both mental and physical stimulation and is essential to weight control (a fat cat is not a happy cat, health-wise). Our cats are not supposed to be couch potatoes but active hunters of prey.

You also need to get your cat’s groom on. While cats are efficiently self-cleaners, those who live safely indoors shed year-round and tend to need extra help. So do elderly cats; their reduced mobility often means they can no longer efficiently groom their nether regions.

CatOneonOneTime

A happy cat is well fed, groomed, played with and, above all else, loved.

For grooming to become routine, you need to find grooming tools your cat is comfortable with you using. Some prefer mitts with rubber knobs to remove fur instead of a slicker brush. In addition, a de-shedding tool is a must-have to get rid of thick undercoat and to prevent matting.

Let your cat dictate where she likes to be groomed, whether it’s the kitchen counter or on your lap. Grooming is a great way to spend quality time with your favorite cat and is a great way of enhancing the human-animal bond.

Lastly, don’t forget that above all else, make sure you always give Your cat plenty of purr-inducing attention every day.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats